Making a difference in older person’s health

The number of older people in New Zealand is growing rapidly. Most people aged 65+ years are fit and healthy, but a minority are frail or vulnerable and require high levels of care and disability support. These increased needs usually arise during the last few years of life, or from chronic illness or disability that may have been present for many years.

Community and Public Health is therefore committed to ensuring positive health outcomes for older people in our region. South Canterbury is the only South Island region with more than 15 percent of population aged over 65.

It is predicted that more than one in 5 people in NZ will be aged over 65 by 2031 and of these one in 8 people will be aged 85 or older. Of significance over the coming decades is the growing proportion of older Māori, Pacific and Asian peoples as well as other ethnic groups.

Don’t let lack of transport isolate or limit you or an older family member

Age Concern Canterbury has a list of community transport services available in the Christchurch/Canterbury area if you or someone you know needs help getting around.

This includes vans or mini buses, volunteer drivers and driving services. Some services are free while others ask for a donation or charge a fee.

Transport can be provided not just for medical appointments or shopping, but also for leisure or pleasure activities, and social opportunities.

Find out about Community Transport Services in Christchurch/Canterbury or contact Age Concern Canterbury for more information (03 366 0903).

Kaumatua on their annual World Smokefree Day hikoi from Rehua Marae.Supporting the health and wellbeing of kaumātua in Canterbury

Community and Public Health have set up both monthly Health Hubs and Health Clinics for kaumātua or elders and the wider community to access in Canterbury. A steady stream of kaumātua make good use of the information, resources and advice that is on offer. Kaumātua are empowering themselves, developing awareness and taking responsible action for their own health and wellbeing needs. This includes getting medication advice and having checks for blood pressure, hearing, vision or other medical conditions.

Often further medical care is recommended to address concerns raised by the health checks, such as GP follow-up or specialist referrals. All the Hubs and Clinics include whanaungatanga and laughter over a cup of tea.

Timaru District Council launches strategy for Age-Friendly future

Timaru District Council media release: 2nd September 2021

Timaru District Council is launching a new strategy to help make Timaru District a more Age-Friendly community.

The Timaru District has one of the fastest growing populations of older people in New Zealand. By 2038 it is projected that the proportion of our population aged 65 years and over will increase by approximately 8.5 percent. This accounts for about a third of Timaru District residents.

An Age-Friendly Community is one where these older people are engaged and connected to a community that values, respects and supports them.

As part of the creation of the strategy, Timaru District Council is now asking the whole community to take part in a survey to gauge how Age-Friendly the community currently is, and help identify priority areas where it can improve things.

“This survey isn’t only open to people 65 and over. We want feedback from anyone about what they believe older people need to thrive in our community, as what’s helpful for older people is often great for everyone in the community,” says Mayor Nigel Bowen.

Dementia app For Māori launches

An app to help Māori affected by mate wareware (dementia) and to raise awareness of the disease has been launched.

The app is called Mate Wareware and was developed by researchers from the University of Auckland and AUT University following the largest-ever study of Māori affected by dementia. “Kaumatuatanga Ō Te Roro – The Ageing Brain” found the disease is poorly understood within Māori communities and whānau have difficulty accessing information that might help.

Dr Makarena Dudley from the University of Auckland and Brain Research New Zealand, says she is delighted that the app is now in the hands of those who need it.

“The Mate Wareware app has been developed to be Māori-friendly and has been co-created through collaboration with end-users such as kaumātua and whānau who helped identify topics, and user-tested it,” she says.

“Tikanga Māori is central to the app, with an introduction and karakia by kaumātua, and everyone featured in it is Māori – from the social worker to the whānau affected by mate wareware.”

Topics covered in the app include what mate wareware is and what Māori understandings of it is, the types and causes of it, how to look after whānau who are affected by it and how to identify if someone might be suffering from it.



Download or order resources from the Community Health Information Centre.


Contact for more information:

Ph: +64 3 364 1777
Fax: +64 3 379 6125

Contacts for more information:

Older Person’s Health Specialist Service (CDHB)
Ph: +64 3 337 7899

Age Concern (Canterbury)
Ph: +64 3 366 0903

Elder Care Canterbury
Ph: +64 3 366 5472

Senior Chef
Ph: +64 3 374 1639

Age Concern (Ashburton)
Ph: +64 3 308 6817

Age Concern (South Canterbury)
Ph: +64 3 686 6844

Contact the Elder Abuse Response Service if you are concerned about elder abuse:

  • Call the FREE helpline (0800 32 668 65);
  • Text 5032; or
  • Email support[at]

Shingles vaccine for older adults

Shingles is a painful rash affecting a particular nerve. It is a long term effect of chickenpox many years after people recover from the disease.

Shingles usually occurs in older people and lasts from 10 to 15 days. The nerve pain can last long after the rash disappears.

A vaccine against shingles (Zostavax) is now free at age 65 in New Zealand.

Advance Care Planning: Having conversations that count

Advance Care Planning (ACP) is the process of thinking about, talking about and planning for future health care and end of life care.

Advance care planning gives everyone a chance to say what’s important to them. It helps older people understand what the future might hold and to say what treatment they would and would not want.

This makes it much easier for families and healthcare providers to know what the person would want – particularly if they can no longer speak for themselves.

Advance Care Planning... Let's talk... Poster (HEA0019).

Projects promoting social inclusion after the Canterbury earthquakes

Community and Public Health supported two mental wellbeing projects for older people from The Muse Community Music Trust after the 2010/11 earthquakes.

The Rockers of Ages is a singing group for elders and aspiring elders – any age and ability welcome. The group is run by The Muse Community Music Trust.

The Keepsake Singers is for everyone who enjoys singing songs from the past in a fun, friendly atmosphere. The Keepsake Singers is particularly welcoming to older adults and to people experiencing memory loss and dementia.

Page last updated: 10/09/2021

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